Inside the Playbook: Different Ways of Blocking Jet Sweep

 Jet sweep is one of the core concepts teams use to attack the edge with speed. It's relatively cheap to install, serves as a great constraint for your primary run game, and serves as a great tool to diagnose defensive coverage/rotation as well as trigger down safeties to support the vertical play action pass. But not all teams run it the same, and teams that lean on it more tend to treat the blocking of it a bit different. This post is going to examine some of the ways you see jet sweep blocked.

Don't Block the 3-Technique

The way I was always taught Jet Sweep was as simple as:

  • Backside to the 3-tech, block the run fake
  • Outside the 3-tech, arc to the 2nd level (seal) or alley, depending on defensive numbers
This is a great way of selling the run fake to the backside of the sweep, while gaining back blocking numbers by not blocking the 3-Tech, who will struggle to quickly redirect (either vertically or horizontally) to be able to make a play on the ball carrier. Having it be the B-gap player unblocked a) protects your mesh point from getting blown up (vs not blocking the A-gap player), but b) gives you some wiggle room if you don't major in sweep with timing (i.e. they are close enough to the mesh point that if your mesh is a little late or the ball carrier hits at less than full speed, they can still get around the unblocked.

Or 4i (B-gap player)

The downside is that you still have to find a way to block a 5-tech, which isn't always intuitive. Some will try to pin down on the 5-tech and pull around, but now you have a puller in the backfield with a skill player going full speed, that doesn't always gel (it works better if operating from gun, example below).

More common is just rip/arc, sometimes cut that 5-tech. But that can leave you in a bad spot if you can't get that guy on the ground or sealed quickly.

Don't Block the 5-Technique
This seems to be the favored approach by most teams now, as more-and-more teams that major in sweep (i.e. run it regularly). When hit at full speed and well timed, the ball carrier should still be able to get outside the unblocked defender and be able to cut upfield if needed before the END can get horizontal and close off the space. This also solves the "what do we do with the 5-technique" question. If you are primarily shotgun, and if you run BASH concepts, this allows this technique to be more forgiving as well, which is why I think more teams are turning to it. in favor of not blocking the 3-technique.

(Don't block the 5-tech)

The problem can occur when ends are penetrating or getting vertical off the snap. If they aren't hesitating because they are unblocked or they see defenders arcing, they can get to their spot before the ball carrier can get the edge. It makes it so "rules" aren't always enough, but who lines up in the 5-tech becomes important

So then you can try different plans for the 5-tech, such as pinning down on the 3-tech and pulling the guard. If the 5-tech goes inside, leave him, if he doesn't try to log him. Again, easier from gun to give some distance between puller and ball carrier

See how this fits well with BASH plays

And another way to mitigate the 5-tech getting vertical

Arc the Furthest Playside

Matt Canada, a jet sweep master, gives the option of blocking it to the closed or open side by always dictating that the furthest outside will arc. This means all TEs in the closed direciton, or the open side tackle if the run is that direction. Interestingly, those same players will still sometimes arc even on the jet fake, which holds the backside of the defense even when you are giving on the traditional outside zone path.


Another interesting wrinkle from Canada is that he is more than willing to run the jet action to and away from backfield action. OZ to the jet still works by helping widen the front, and you can just block the sweep with that action (or even lead with the RB) if you want to be able to do both from the same initial look. 

The Ringer

Split Blocking Based on Numbers/Alignment

Some teams will simply run split blocking (note: not split zone, but split the line at some point on who is blocking one direction, and who the other) based on the numbers on defense and their alignment. This allows offenses to ensure they have adequate numbers to block the edge and theoretically not give up penetration which blows up the play.

Arc Backs, Slip the Line

Paul Chryst, who has dabbled in the world of jet sweep himself, will utilize his bevy of backs (FBs and TEs) to arc to the second level. Meanwhile, his OL will initially work the same direction as the back, but slip to the second level, either to seal the LBs inside, or race out and kick the edge.

And how it works even when he doesn't have backs


Given the timing and proximity to the LOS, with Y-off he will even counter step the arc to sell the backfield action a bit more

Not exactly jet sweep, but slipping all first level blocks

Rip and Go

If you run a lot of gap schemes rather than zone, just rip and go wide zone blocking is sufficient to sell the backside action (i.e. it sells down blocks), so just go ahead and block the sweep path and don't worry about leaving someone unblocked.


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